Health Notes

In Case Of Emergencies

Black and white health case

With schools breaking up shortly, prep for holiday health with the St John Ambulance Universal Plus First Aid Kit – everything you need for common accidents, plus a first aid leaflet, £16.80 from stjohnsupplies.co.uk. And here are my tried and trusted products for trips near and far:

  • Derma E Hydrating Facial Wipes, £9 for 25: one-stop cleansing and softening wipes, based on plant ingredients; they’re plastic-free and 100 percent compostable with recyclable packaging. Also: Simply Gentle Organic Cotton Buds, £2.25 for 200, with biodegradable stems.
  • Compeed Blister Mix Plasters, £4.39: a must for sore heels, toes or corns. Available nationwide.
  • Sea-Band, £8.74 for a pack of two wristbands to help nausea and vomiting: position the band’s stud on an acupressure point on your inside wrist. For adults and children. Sea-Band Mama! Ginger Lozenges with Folic Acid, £4.60, may help to alleviate morning sickness.
  • Viridian Nutrition Travel Biotic, £24.95 for 30 capsules: contains a probiotic shown to prevent traveller’s diarrhoea and stomach upsets. Take one daily for five days before travelling then during your trip.
  • Dr Scurr’s Zinopin Long Haul, £24.50 for ten capsules (for each return flight): this natural supplement formulated by a consultant surgeon helps reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis and puffy ankles on flights over two hours.
  • De Mamiel Altitude Oil, £28 for 10ml: a blend of antibacterial, antiviral and antiseptic herbs to help clear your head and protect your immune system on germ-friendly planes and public transport.
  • Fire Angel Carbon Monoxide (CO) Alarm, £24.99: this portable device detects poisonous gas, which has no smell or taste. Inhaling CO can cause chronic ill health. High levels can be deadly, with deaths from faulty appliances recorded in hotels and rentals. (See nhs.uk for symptoms.)
  • Better You Magnesium Gel, £11.95: fast-acting gel for joint and muscle aches and pains or post-flight stiffness.
  • Terranova Avena Sativa & Tart Cherry, £16.80: natural remedy that may help jet lag, tension and insomnia.
  • iS Clinical Sheald Recovery Balm, £43 for 60ml: brilliant for sunburn – a father whose small son was very sunburnt was astonished at its almost instant calming and healing effect. (If you have nothing else, apply cold milk.)

Being ‘hangry’ – hungry and angry – is a real phenomenon, experts agree.
When blood sugar levels drop, you’re more likely to snap at people. Stress related hormones are released along with neuropeptide Y, a chemical that can make people more aggressive. Nutritionist Ian Marber (ianmarber.com) told me many years ago that blood sugar levels start to drop two to three hours after eating, which explained why I would feel faint, shaky and irritable if I didn’t refuel. Ever since then I always carry some nuts in my bag or – a new discovery – a Bounce Protein Energy Ball. These filling, gluten-free, vegetarian bites tide me over nicely. My favourites from the range of 12 are Cacao Mint and Almond, £2 each at Waitrose.


If footwear could win an Oscar, my colleague Rosalind and I would vote for FitFlops, the genius brand pioneered by entrepreneur Marcia Kilgore. Actress Uma Thurman loves them so much she has her own FitFlop Edit, #Forsuperwomen. Like millions of others, we are devotees of these brilliantly designed sandals, shoes and boots, which take you anywhere in style and (hallelujah!) comfort. I wore the Superchic Woven Ballerinas, £90, to a glam dinner and skipped home at the end. Rosalind’s vote goes to the ‘light and airy’ Lulu Mirror Cross Slide Sandals, £59.95. For trotting round town, we’re both wedded to our F-Sporty Uberknit Crystal Sneakers, £89.95 – lace-ups you can pull on. Your feet will thank you. fitflop.com

The Scene

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A crowded restaurant on a warm evening. The problem: my menopausal friends getting hot and bothered. The solution: FanU, a phone-sized, lightweight portable cool air fan, which Gill Sinclair, joint founder of Victoria Health, pulled triumphantly from her handbag. It’s a must for anyone with hot flushes, due to hormones or chemotherapy, or simply because it’s hot outside (here’s hoping). With a USB and rechargeable battery, £9.99, in white or pink. Read More…

Boost Your Mood With Herbal Heroes

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Q: I would like to find an all-round natural supplement. A friend mentioned she takes an adaptogen: what are they, and how do I choose one for my over-busy lifestyle?

A: I’ve always liked the concept that adaptogens – natural substances that improve your body’s ability to adapt to stress, both physical and mental– go where they are needed at the time, acting on multiple parts of the body to strengthen weakness and bring balance.

According to medical herbalist Katie Pande: ‘Adaptogenic herbs are said to have a normalising effect on the body and mind, reducing the negative changes that can happen in your body in response to stress.’ Read More…

What’s Causing My Daughter’s Meltdowns?

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Q: My teenage daughter has mood swings with tearfulness and irritability, as well as bloating and breast tenderness before her period. Could it be premenstrual syndrome? Our GP is dismissive.

A: Those symptoms are common to premenstrual syndrome (PMS). In fact, more than 150 psychological, behavioural and physical symptoms have been identified, according to the National Association for Premenstrual Syndrome (NAPS ). The most usual are listed in the box below.

No one will experience every symptom, which may vary from cycle to cycle. Although the exact cause has still to be identified, experts agree the key factor is the rollercoaster of hormones during the monthly cycle. Read More…

The Natural Remedy To Help Ease Colic

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Q: Is There Anything Natural To Help A Colicky Crying Baby?

A: Some evidence points to targeted probiotics being helpful in this common condition. A recent article in The Journal of Pediatrics says ‘a sudden explosion of studies’ indicate that an imbalance of bacteria in the infant’s gut may lead to inflammation, causing colic and crying. A small trial showed Bio-Kult Infantis (£11.95 for 16 sachets) significantly reduced symptoms and daily crying time, compared to a placebo. The product may also help infants and children with other tummy troubles, as well as those suffering from eczema.

Read More…

How To Beat The Winter Blues

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Q: As the evenings draw in and it’s dark when I get up, I notice that my energy levels dip and I want to eat more – usually carbs, which is unlike me – and sleep more. Does this mean that I have seasonal depression? If so, what can I do about it?

A: Full-blown seasonal depression affects eight per cent of people in the UK during winter, according to the Seasonal Affective Disorder Association (SADA, sada.org.uk). Unlike other forms of depression, ‘people with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) tend to sleep more, eat more and gain weight’, explains Dr Norman Rosenthal (normanrosenthal.com), the psychiatrist who first described and named SAD in the 1980s. Read More…